Cause, Effects, Solutions
This essay Question Type presents you with a SITUATION and asks you to describe the CAUSES, EFFECTS and/or SOLUTIONS to the problem.
You must read the question carefully and be sure to provide the items required by the question.
A common topic for this type of question is TOURISM so lets look at some ways the question can be written and how you can answer it.
More and more people today travel by air. What are some causes of this? What positive and negative effects does this have? Can you suggest any solutions?
Continue reading for examples, tips and advice...
(1) More and more people today travel by air. (2)What are some causes of this? (3) What positive and negative effects does this have? (4)Can you suggest any solutions?
Again, we can break the question into 4 parts to make it easier to answer.
(1) The Issue
More and more people today travel by air.
This Question Type will usually present you with a problem or situation. Just like previous Question Type, you do not have to argue whether the situation is true or not. Just accept it as a FACT according to the IELTS test.
What are some causes of this?
Make sure you can use words and phrases to describe CAUSES such as:
- due to
- because of
- leads to
because of / due to / lead to / results in
Phrases which introduce causes which have a PREPOSITION (of/in/to etc) must be followed by a NOUN PHRASE
Air travel has increased BECAUSE OF lower prices.
(LOWER PRICES cannot be a sentence by itself. PRICES is a NOUN. Therefore it is a NOUN PHRASE.)
INCORRECT : Air travel has increased because of prices are lower.
because / since / as
Phrases which do NOT have a PREPOSITION (because / since / as etc) must be followed by a CLAUSE (which will include a SUBJECT and a VERB)
Air travel has increased BECAUSE prices have dropped.
(PRICES HAVE DROPPED could be a sentence by itself. It has a SUBJECT (PRICES) and a VERB. Therefore it is a CLAUSE.)
INCORRECT: Air travel has increased because lower prices.
Usually you are asked about negative and positive effects.
What positive and negative effects does this have?
Try to be balanced by describing one positive and one negative effect.
Use modals to "soften" your meaning because you don't really know what the effect is...
- One positive effect might be...
- One negative effect could be...
Can you suggest any solutions?
Usually the problem or situation is too complex to actually solve in 250 words. You only have to suggest 1 or 2 possible solutions.
Use SHOULD / OUGHT TO to give advice.
A good way to think of solutions is to consider the following questions:
- What should governments do?
- What should companies do?
- What should people (individuals) do?
- Governments SHOULD provide alternatives to air travel such as high speed rail networks.
- Companies SHOULD encourage employees to communicate online, for example via Skype, instead of taking unnecessary business trips.
- As individuals, we SHOULD think carefully about the effect on the environment before we travel.
In the above example the question asked about CAUSES, EFFECTS AND SOLUTIONS.
However, your IELTS question might only ask about two of these, for example:
CAUSE + EFFECT
More and more people today travel by air. What are some causes of this? What positive and negative effects does this have?
EFFECT + SOLUTION
More and more people today travel by air. What positive and negative effects does this have? Can you suggest any solutions?
CAUSE + SOLUTION
More and more people today travel by air which leads to increased levels of pollution. What are some causes of this? Can you suggest any solutions?
- Make sure your answer is balanced. You can write one PARAGRAPH about EACH part of the question. This may give you 2 or 3 BODY paragraphs, but they should be roughly equal in length.
- Make sure your answer covers the requirements of the question! If the question asks about EFFECT + SOLUTION your answer should focus on EFFECT + SOLUTION. If you write half of your essay about CAUSES by mistake, you didn't answer the question!
- Make sure you review the language for describing CAUSES and EFFECTS.
- Review MODALS so that you can "soften" your meaning (MIGHT / MAY / COULD) and to give advice (SHOULD / OUGHT TO).